Living It – The Tipi

 

All across the United States children of all ages have begun a study of North America history and culture.  Heralded by Columbus Day and threading through until at least Thanksgiving Day, Americans delve into various interpretations on what transpired when one culture, the Europeans, collided with another, the Indigenous Peoples of North America.

At our current juncture in American history, it can be difficult to imagine life in the Americas only a few hundred years ago upon the meeting of the first Pilgrims and Indians.  However, every person residing in the United States be it Manhattan, the Badlands, San Francisco or right here in Charleston, South Carolina are within walking distance to historical sites where the two cultures met, exchanged ideas, collaborated, or came in conflict- its understanding essential in defining  modern interpretation of what it means to be American.

The primary years during which time a person is in her ABSORBENT PERIOD provides a unique opportunity to instill a concrete, sensorially rich memory upon which future history may unfold in the mind.  For this, we have found the TIPI to be essential.

This fall will mark our second year of living it with a life size replica of Sioux Tipi of the American Plains.  No dwelling in all the world stirs the imagination like the tipi of the Plains Indians.

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As we soak in the magnitude and beauty of our Tipi which now marks the entrance of our school garden, we  prepare our winter grounds.  As a place marked for silent reflection and meditation, the elders work quietly side-by-side preparing the environment to welcome the other members of our community in the coming months.  Our memories fill with what must have been similar practical and sensorial experiences of Indian children preparing their homes a few centuries ago.

References:

the Indian Tipi: Its History, Construction, and Use, Reginald & Gladys Laubin

The Wisdom of the Native Americans, Compiled and Edited by Kent Nerburn

If You Lived with the Sioux Indians, Ann McGovern

Native Americans: Plains Indians, Mir Tamin Ansary